THURSDAY, 27 AUGUST 2014
With hundreds of qualified and trusted welfare officers facing the sack, Labor has called on the Abbott Government to reverse its decision to only fund religious chaplains in our schools.
“The Government must reverse its extreme decision that means only religious chaplains can be funded, and not qualified welfare officers and counsellors,” Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said.
“Determining who is best placed to support the needs of local students should be left to principals and school communities – not to Christopher Pyne and George Brandis.”
“It is an unjustifiable disgrace that hundreds of schools will lose valued, hardworking and qualified counsellors as a result of the Abbott Government’s ideology being rammed down the throat of school students across Australia.”
In June this year the High Court ruled that it was invalid for payments to be made directly by the Commonwealth to schools under the program.
The Federal Government is now giving the money to states and territories to administer, but on the condition it is used to only fund religious chaplains.
Kate Ellis also called on the Abbott Government to outline how it would ensure states put safeguards in place.
“Without safeguards, we risk seeing complaints return to the high levels seen under the religious-only chaplains program set up by the Howard Government,” Kate Ellis said.
Labor previously expanded the program so school communities had the choice of hiring a qualified welfare officer or counsellor.